The administrative units of the Campus Services department at Georgia Tech represent a wide variety of functions for supporting the academic mission of the Institute and conducting some of the business aspects of higher education. The Campus Services units are responsible for the following program and service areas: auxiliaries (bookstore, student center, two childcare centers, and retail operation), dining, parking and transportation, procurement and business services, human resources, health and well-being (student health center, campus recreation, and health promotion), housing (facilities, residence life, and conference services), and information technology (dedicated to Campus Services).
The planning and assessment processes of the Campus Services units are part of the comprehensive Georgia Tech institutional effectiveness plan. Institutional effectiveness is defined as the process of identifying expected outcomes, assessing the extent to which it achieves those outcomes and providing evidence of improvement based on an analysis of the results (SACS, 2012).
The Campus Services units began formally documenting their planning and assessment processes in 2013. The units have developed a mission statement, goals and objectives based on their programs and services. The goals are aligned with the strategic imperatives of the Campus Services department and the strategic goals of the Institute. Accompanying each objective is a valid measurement method and related benchmark to determine the unit’s level of success in accomplishing the objective. Units analyze their annual results to identify if the benchmark was met. Based on that analysis, in the subsequent year, if the benchmark was not met, the units implement action plans to improve the outcome. The results are then examined at the end of that year to demonstrate whether or not the action plan was effective in achieving the desired benchmark. At year-end, units also determine if objectives should be considered completed, extended for another year, or if any new ones are needed. This process is cyclical and occurs every fiscal year (see assessment cycle below).
The Planning and Assessment Cycles
To manage the process of planning and assessment, the Campus Services department hired a Director of Unit Plan and Assessment. This position serves as a resource for all units to help them with the development of strategic/assessment plans, analyzing data, and creating effective action plans. The Director also manages the data collection, analysis and dissemination of results of the annual Campus Services Customer Service Satisfaction Survey and the Auxiliary Services Council of Georgia (ASCOG) annual survey of the auxiliary service outcomes of participating Georgia institutions.
The Campus Services units currently utilize an assessment management system, Compliance Assist, from Campus Labs®. Compliance Assist acts as the central repository for all of the Campus Services’ units strategic/assessment plans, data and reporting.
Professional Organizations (resources for outcomes, standards, and benchmarking)
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do the Campus Services units conduct planning and assessment?
Planning and assessment have many purposes and the units may use these processes to:
- Determine priority outcomes for unit employees to achieve based on their input.
- Continuously improve through evidence-based decision making
- Efficiently allocate resources to meet strategic priorities.
- Celebrate accomplishments.
- Satisfy reporting requirements for accountability to internal and external stakeholders.
What is the difference between a goal and an objective?
- A goal is a broad, over-arching outcome statement that describes the intended purposes and functions of the unit in support of its mission, the strategic goals of the Institute, and the Campus Services imperatives. Goals are long-term oriented.
- An objective is a specific, measurable outcome statement that describes the intended qualities of key functions, operations, or services of the unit. Objectives are short-term oriented and may address such topics as productivity, efficiency, revenue generation, processes, effectiveness, quality, service satisfaction, student learning, or employee development.
How many goals does a unit need?
Typically, 3-5 goals per unit are sufficient, but a unit may have more goals if needed. Some Campus Services units have developed goals for an entire department under which their sub-units only developed objectives for each goal while other sub-units have developed both goals and objectives.
How many objectives does a unit need?
Typically, 1-3 objectives per goal, but a unit may have more objectives if needed.
What is a measurement method?
Since objectives are measurable, each objective needs evidence to determine whether the objective is a success. The measurement method provides this evidence. Measurement methods may be direct [preferred] (quantitative), indirect (qualitative) or both. Measurements methods should also be valid (does the method measure the objective) and reliable (are the results of the measurement sufficiently trustworthy to make an informed decision about any action to be taken based on the results).
How does a unit set a benchmark?
Every measurement method must have an associated benchmark. The benchmark sets the criteria for success and should be justifiable. Benchmarks may be internally developed based on historical data and professional judgment. Benchmarks may also be externally developed based on industry standards or data from peer institutions.
How does a unit analyze a result?
A result generally consists of four parts which describe the “why” of the data, help the unit to draw a conclusion and take appropriate action, and demonstrate appropriate stakeholders were involved. The four elements of a well-analyzed result are:
- A description of the data. What was the actual outcome? Did the unit meet the benchmark?
- An analysis of the data that may include the following:
- Patterns observed in the data.
- An examination of trends (minimum of three years of data needed)
- Performance compared to the benchmark.
- Year-over-year changes
- Demonstrations of dissemination
- With whom are results shared?
- Do relevant stakeholders have input to determine the “why” of the result.
- A justification if action needs to be taken based on the results. The results should logically inform the substance of the action plan.
How does a unit write an action plan?
Action plans have three parts:
- Specific description of what the unit intends to do to improve/change the result.
- Description of budget requirements
- Are budget funds needed? Yes or no.
- If yes, how much (total dollar value)?
- If yes, what for (short description of major budget needs)
- An implementation timeline that includes the term/year and a brief description of what will be done during that time.
What are the planning/assessment timeline and responsibilities?
The planning/assessment cycle is based on a fiscal year: July 1st-June 30th with the following responsibilities identified below:
- Post end-of-year action plan progress
- Analyze FY results and post
- Determine objective status (completed/forwarded)
- Edit next FY plans (add new goals/objs./measure and benchmarks)
- Create new action plans
- Revised/New plans due by August 31st
Implement FY Action Plans
Post semi-annual action plan progress (from July 1 through December 31)
Progress reports due January 31st
Implement FY Action Plans
See July/August above